The rally called on billion-dollar retailers to ensure the new rates are paid when the deadline for payment begins on April 4th.
“It is literally a matter of life-and-death that these rates are paid. We are seeing 330 people slaughtered on our roads each year in truck crashes while truck driving is Australia’s deadliest profession,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“I am calling on drivers to take direct action with their work mates to ensure these rates are paid by transport operators and clients. This is a fight for rights: the right for all road users to be able to come home safely and for drivers to do their jobs safely,” he added.
“The deaths are inextricably linked to pressures drivers are under: pressure to drive long hours, to speed and forgo safety checks and maintenance,” Sheldon said.
Last December the road safety watchdog handed down the ground-breaking ruling on minimum safe rates. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal said long-distance drivers and those working in retail must be paid minimum rates which also cover time spent waiting and queuing at depots and distribution centres. The ruling said wealthy retailers which use transport operators must be held to account for pressures on drivers.
“Drivers must also stand up against exploitation and companies hiring drivers illegally. This also effects all the community as we saw recently in Sydney when a truck caused traffic chaos on the M5 airport tunnel after the drivers on visas were unable to reverse the vehicle,” Sheldon added.
Truck driver Frank Black said the pay rates were vital in addressing the high death toll in truck crashes. “Drivers need to know they can feed their family and pay bills. They need to know they don’t have to cut corners on safety.”